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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 04-20-17, 07:26 AM   #1
Swoop
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Those of you riding with cameras - recommendations?

Had an encounter recently which has pushed me off the fence as to whether action cams are worth it. GoPros are kinda out of my budget though. Yi looks good? I see there's a world of knock-offs and I'm sure many are rubbish but there probably are a couple of decent ones. Would appreciate any recommendations folks could make (either for or against particular cams). Thanks
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Old 04-20-17, 09:23 AM   #2
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We need a little more info to give good recommendations.
Do you ride in the rain? How long is your ride? Can you charge at work?
For me, "yes", "90-100 minutes one way" and "yes but I'd rather not"

My minimum specs for a camera, adjust for your situation:
- waterproof
- 3+ hour battery life OR at least 2 hours and inexpensive replaceable batteries
- can turn on with a single action - giant slide switch that you can use with gloves is ideal, single pushbutton if large is OK

I have a Contour Roam3 on my helmet, and a Cycliq Fly6 on the back. The Contour is around $100

I really, really do not like the GoPro "brick" form factor. It's ridiculous on a helmet. I have owned several cams (maybe 10 or 12). I only use cams that can go on the side of the helmet now.

If you do wind up going with a GoPro/brick style cam, you probably want to look at the SJCam. Make sure to check it's genuine. It's maybe the only GoPro knockoff that's good enough that other manufacturers have made knockoffs of it. If it doesn't have the SJCam logo on the front of the cam, it's a knockoff.

Sony action cams are AWESOME but not cheap.
I think all the rest of the cameras I've owned aren't made any more so it's pointless me going on about them.
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Old 04-20-17, 04:13 PM   #3
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I'm using OsmAnd DVR on a spare iPhone4. The full app only costs a few bux, and it's great, IMO.
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Old 04-20-17, 08:38 PM   #4
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I second "Itsjustme" and another Sony action cam recommendation.
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Old 04-20-17, 10:18 PM   #5
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I've used an Ion Speed Pro on every ride since last July. Good value (about $60 on Amazon), no real problems (a couple of minor firmware glitches early on, since resolved). Weatherproof as-is, no need for special housing. Run time per charge, lens, etc., are pretty much like every other action camera.

For rides under 90 minutes I wear it on my helmet, via a mount homebrewed from part of an Ion mount that came with the camera, along with heavy duty velcro tape and zip ties -- I wanted to get the camera as low as possible, so I skipped the standard helmet mount.

For longer rides I'll either strap a small external USB battery onto the camera, or mount it on the handlebar and use a heavier high capacity USB battery to run for hours. Only problem with this method is it compromises the watertight rear seal, which must be removed to access the USB port.

The main problem with most action video cameras is they're not ideal for mundane commuting documentation. The usual 180 degree FOV is too wide for most purposes. Objects such as license plates are too small. At 1080p and 30 fps only some frames are sharp enough to ID a license plate. At 720p and 60 fps the odds of snagging a sharp frame improve, but the image is too small. I need to be really close to a vehicle to reliably snag a clear license plate.

Other limitations include low light sensitivity without excessive noise, and dynamic range. The Ion Speed Pro's sensor is outdated in those characteristics. It's closer to a first generation GoPro. It's pretty much a daylight only camera. At night I'm lucky to record the basic shape and color of a vehicle.

Example: Wednesday afternoon an SUV blew past me at a stop sign, less than three feet to my left. Even at that relatively short range I can't make out a complete license number, recording at 720p/60 fps.

Techmoan reviews on YouTube (good channel) indicate some newer dashboard cams have been image quality. But they aren't designed for bicycles or motorcycles. They can be adapted but it's a bit of a hassle. I may try one mounted on the bike itself to supplement my helmet cam.

I'm leaning toward a Mobius dash cam as a second video camera, mounted to the bike with appropriate power supply and weatherproof housing.

Keep in mind when watching YouTube reviews of dash cams that many reviewers are based in England or elsewhere in Europe where license plates are larger and easier to read at a distance. US license plates are relatively tiny and hard to read. So when watching Techmoan's reviews look for details in passing street signs and similar details that are more comparable to US license plates.
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Old 04-21-17, 07:32 AM   #6
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I'm on my second Contour Roam. It works well, with about 4 .5 hours of battery life and the ability to rotate the lens means no matter what angle it sits on your helmet you can re-adjust the lens to the horizontal.
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Old 04-21-17, 07:40 AM   #7
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I use a Garmin Virb with a helmet mount. Records at 1080p and has a little microphone. I think they are cheaper than the gopro units in USA (at least they are in Canada).
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Old 04-21-17, 08:17 AM   #8
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I've used a couple of Contour Roams almost daily for about 4 years now. They've been used under the hot summer sun, heavy rain, high winds (80mph), down to 0° in ice and snow storms and they're still going strong.
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Old 04-21-17, 09:00 AM   #9
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I really think the Contour Roam3 is probably unbeatable in the $100 range. I had an earlier model and sold it, and it still has the gripe of no circular recording (loop recording) but they have a one button card format on the new models that kind of makes up for it. The other problem was inability to change recording parameters without hooking it to a computer, but they kind of made up for that by allowing two presets and having a switch to choose between them. The 3 hour battery life and ability to turn it on wearing gloves without looking make it a good choice IMO.
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Old 05-03-17, 01:02 PM   #10
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